A few weeks ago, I was invited to take a hike with a fellow MissionCorps member and a friend.  We decided to try Camelback Mountain, and when we set off in the early morning I was feeling very confident and very excited to climb my first Arizona summit!

After a few minutes of walking, however, my confidence quickly started to melt away with the heat and rocky terrain. Although I love hiking and a good challenge, I was caught off guard by the steep rocky slopes that, to my eye, appeared to be nearly vertical.

At one point, when we still had about 1/4th of a mile to the top, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it. When we stopped for a water break, my legs were burning, I felt like I was going to faint, and all I wanted to do was be back in my warm bed. Seeing all the experienced hikers zip past while I was sitting on a rock—almost to the point of tears—was extremely disheartening. But Melissa and Brian, my companions on my journey up Camelback, patiently encouraged me to look at how far we had already come up the mountain. After building me up with this pep talk and a few more minutes of rest, we continued on and eventually reached our goal of making it to the summit.

The entire way down, I couldn’t stop thinking about how our moms at Maggie’s Place are mountain climbers. Each mom has at least a few mountains she is trying to overcome – such as drug addiction, codependent relationships, homelessness, CPS cases, and unemployment – all the while expecting a child. I wish I could tell you that our moms never get discouraged, but that is not the case. Discouragement is a common feeling in the homes, simply because our moms choose to set big goals for themselves and the road to reach those goals are often steep. But just as Melissa and Brian’s gentle encouragement was essential to getting me up Camelback, an equal amount of encouragement is crucial for our moms. Maggie’s Place recognizes this, and as a result we try our best to celebrate the little successes, the baby steps up the mountain.

St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians to “encourage one another and build one another up.” (1 Thess 5:11).  Here at Maggie’s Place, we do this in many ways. Encouragement may come in the form of giving a mom a hug when she’s had a bad day, telling her she looks beautiful without her makeup on, awarding a mom a “bubble” for our Goal Fish board on Community Night, or creating a handmade sign to celebrate a sobriety anniversary.  As MissionCorps, we strive to support the moms and be a dependable source of encouragement. It is our hope that in doing so, our moms will be able to see how far they have come on their trek up their mountains and they will have the courage to continue on in their journey.

By Gretchen Smith, MissionCorps Member at the Michael House